WASHINGTON DC —
Zanu PF says 90 year-old party first secretary Robert Mugabe is expected to seek re-election in its December congress despite his advanced age.
Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said indications are that Mr. Mugabe is currently the top candidate for the position, which translates into the country’s presidency.
“President Mugabe is eligible for re-election at the party congress and if the people still want him, they will elect him. This is not determined by individuals, it’s the people who chose these leaders and I am sure that they still want the president to lead them and therefore they are free to do so,” said Gumbo.
He says at 90, President Mugabe has a sharp mind to rule the country. “ … He is still very sharp despite his age. The people elected him overwhelmingly in the last election and therefore they don’t regard age as a factor here.”
He dismissed as “nonsensical” suggestions that election in Zimbabwe are normally rigged in favour of Zanu PF.
“That’s not true. Elections are usually monitored by many organizations and generally it is not possible to rig elections in this country. How do you do that? There are closely monitored,” he said.
On the party’s succession issue, he said Zanu PF members are free to discuss it. “Everyone is free to discuss this and choose candidates of their choice for the December congress.”
Deputy spokesman Joel Gabhuza of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai said it will be tragic if Mugabe is re-elected Zanu PF president.
“(President Robert) Mugabe is now too old to run his party and Zimbabwe.
Political analyst Shadreck Gutto of the University of South Africa said opposition parties in Zimbabwe lack the capacity to unseat Mr. Mugabe, who has been in power for 34 years.
"These parties are too fragmented to challenge Zanu PF which appears to have become a bit popular due to the land reform programme although it favoured those people aligned to the party. At the same time, it is clear that Mugabe is too old to lead Zimbabwe. He is currently the glue that binds Zanu PF together and if he goes, there will be a lot of conflict in the party.
“What is also clear is that the president is not yet prepared to relinquish power to his colleagues.”
Mr. Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 when the country gained independence from British rule after several years of an armed struggle against the white colonial regime.